Astroscale’s ADRAS-J Successfully Approaches Several Hundred Meters to Space Debris

Posted April 22nd, 2024 Posted in News

From thousands of kilometers down to several hundred meters, the Rendezvous and Proximity Operations mission marks a significant achievement in safely approaching unprepared objects in space.

Tokyo, Japan, Apr. 22, 2024 Astroscale Japan Inc. (“Astroscale Japan”), a subsidiary of Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), a market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, announced that its commercial debris inspection demonstration satellite, Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J), has achieved the next technical milestone: the successful safe and controlled approach to an unprepared space debris object to a relative distance of several hundred meters. Additionally, ADRAS-J successfully demonstrated close approach rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) utilizing a safety ellipse approach technique in conjunction with relative navigation inputs from ADRAS-J’s suite of rendezvous payload sensors.

In the proximity approach phase, Astroscale operations teams in Japan and the UK planned and conducted multiple maneuvers into several different safety ellipse orbits that progressively approached the client from a couple of hundred kilometers to several hundred meters. During this period, relative navigation updates were made by processing visual camera images with Astroscale-developed Angles-Only Navigation algorithms.

The ADRAS-J spacecraft was selected by JAXA for Phase I of its Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration program. Astroscale Japan is responsible for the design, manufacture, test, launch and operations of ADRAS-J.

ADRAS-J is a groundbreaking mission as the world’s first attempt to safely approach, characterize and survey the state of an existing piece of large debris through RPO[1]. In the next phase, ADRAS-J will attempt a further close approach and capture images of the upper stage through controlled operations. The images and data collected will be crucial in better understanding the debris and providing critical information for future removal efforts.

ADRAS-J heralds a new era in RPO missions, paving the way for future on-orbit services while laying the foundation of a sustainable space environment.


[1] Based on internal research conducted in April 2024.